Hotel fees set to rise, says academic

A new report from a US academic has suggested that additional charges in hotels are set to continue rising, in an emulation of the profit model taken by many of the world's airlines.

The charges, which airlines term "ancillary fees," can range from internet access charges to minibar restocking fees in hotels and are thought to have brought in $1.55 billion (€1.2 billion) in 2009.

Although this is a fall from the $1.75 billion (€1.36 billion) worth of charges levied in 2008, New York University's Bjorn Hanson believes that as hotels fill up again, the upward trend will continue - leaving guests paying more for their stays.

In total, Dr Hanson believes hotels will recoup $1.7 billion (€1.32 billion) worth of fees this year.

"Fees and surcharges are especially profitable," says Hanson, adding that they "have increased every year except for periods following 2001 and 2009, periods of declining lodging demand."

For consumers, this could mean new fees, something that hotels have been reluctant to embrace up until now, or a hike in existing fees such as those levied for late checkout or WiFi.

Critics have slammed the widespread practice of charging for WiFi in hotels, which often averages €5 - €10 per hour, and considerably more for 24-hour access.

Hotel community site HotelChatter, however, believes that WiFi fees are becoming a differentiator for guests, and the landscape may soon change.

"While old stalwarts will probably never change their policies," the site says in its 2010 Annual WiFi Report, "many up-and-coming hotel brands realize free, reliable, basic WiFi is an easy way to earn guest happiness and loyalty."

Faced with the displeasure of frequent travelers, hotels are increasingly willing to waive "extra" fees that are applied to accounts for guests that are senior members of a loyalty program.

For everyone else, the basic room rate looks set to remain one line on a bill that is slowly increasing in length.

What extras can hotels charge for?

- Resort or amenity fees
- Early departure fees
- Reservation cancellation fees
- Internet fees (both WiFi and ethernet)
- Telephone call surcharges
- Costs of local calls
- Business center fees (i.e., cost of printing, sending/receiving faxes and sending/receiving overnight packages)
- Room service delivery surcharges
- Mini-bar restocking fees
- Charges for in-room safes
- Automatic gratuities and surcharges

Data from NYU Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management - http://www.scps.nyu.edu

HotelChatter 2010 Annual WiFi Report - http://www.hotelchatter.com/tag/Annual%20WiFi%20Report

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